Yesterday, councillors sitting on Salford Council's planning panel had two decisions to make on developments in central Salford.
The first was centred on Countryside Properties' scheme for 299 private rent apartments in Lower Broughton that contained no affordable housing.*
The second was centred on Salix Homes re-applying for planning permission for 108 rent to buy 'affordable' apartments in the grounds of Canon Green Court and Westminster House after the application was rejected at the previous planning meeting.**
The Countryside Properties scheme was approved. The Salix Homes application was rejected again, despite modifications, on design grounds at the bidding of panel chair Councillor Ray Mashiter, on a close vote of six to four.
While the Salix development isn't popular with some social rent tenants who live in Canon Green Court, and the future flats were to be targeted at 'young professionals', at least there was some kind of affordability linked to the scheme via a proposed rent-to-buy scheme.
The decision was described by some of those who attended the meeting as "odd" and "strange", and even Councillor Derek Antrobus, head of planning, voted in favour of the Salix application against the advice of Councillor Mashiter.
Councillor Peter Wheeler summed it up to the panel when he said "It's bonkers. One minute we're bemoaning the lack of affordable houses at a scheme in Broughton, and then within ten minutes we're turning down over one hundred affordable properties less than a mile away."
It's almost as if affordable housing near Chapel Street is not wanted by the powers that be. Very close to the Salix Homes scheme is Fred Done's Blackfriars blocks of unaffordable flats currently being erected, and the Urban Splash blocks of unaffordable flats that were granted planning permission at last month's meeting.
A cynic might argue that the Salix Homes block would undercut these schemes, with a more attractive financial offer to prospective renters/buyers. But that would be cynical. Meanwhile, Salix Homes is expected to appeal the decision, and is 'exploring options'...
"We are disappointed by the decision of Salford Council's Planning Panel to refuse planning approval for a development that would refurbish the homes of our tenants at Canon Green and Westminster Courts and provide more than one hundred new affordable homes in the city" Sue Sutton, executive director of operations at Salix Homes told the Salford Star.
"We've ensured that our residents have been involved with our development proposals every step of the way and we remain fully committed to the refurbishment of our existing units" she added "We will now be exploring our options with colleagues at the council to ensure this decision does not get in the way of the essential improvement work to the existing blocks."
For a full background see previous Salford Star articles...
* Developer Avoids Affordable Housing Provision in Lower Broughton – click here
** Salix Homes 108 Rent To Buy Apartments at Canon Green Court – click here and Salix Homes Canon Green Decision Deferred – click here